‘Integrating the Story into the Grand Landscape of South Africa': Contested Spaces of Sexualized Interracial Terror in J.M. Coetzee’s Disgrace and its Film Adaptation

Karin Ikas, Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main, Germany


This essay examines the narrative and visual potential of physical space and the aesthetic transformation of the real South African topography into a fictitious one against the backdrop of interracial violence and two atrocious rapes in a comparative analysis of J.M. Coetzee’s novel Disgrace and Steve Jacobs's highly controversial film adaptation. It draws, among others, on the theories of Julia Kristeva and Winfried Menninghaus to illustrate how the white protagonist David, who is both a perpetrator and a victim of violence, is coded as an abject whereas his multiply-raped lesbian farm-owning daughter Lucy resorts to gendered tactics of self-determination and spatial self-assertion to turn from a victim into a survivor. To capture the latter conceptually, the notion of a ‘tactical spatial lesbian resilience’ is introduced.


Disgrace; Julia Kristeva; Abject; Gayatri Spivak; resilience; rape; violence; pastoral

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